Exhibition

Hermione Hammond Drawing Award Exhibition at Islington Cass Art Space

The winning work of this year’s Hermione Hammond Drawing Award, alongside the runner up and the highly commended will be on display at the Islington Cass Art Space from 25 September to 8 October.

The Award was established in 2012 in memory of the artist Hermione Hammond to encourage artists to develop their drawing skills. It is now run in conjunction with Mall Galleries. This year 674 entries came from 74 colleges in Britain and Ireland. The exhibition will feature the work of 14 student artists.

Gideon Summerfield, studying at the Royal Drawing School, won the first prize of £4,000 for his pencil portrait of the British immunologist Dr William Frankland MBE, who popularised the Pollen Count in weather reports.

Runner Up, Rebeka-Louise Lee, studying at Canterbury Christ Church University, won Cass Art vouchers worth £250 for her sketchbook series Journal of Places I Visit which includes drawings of the inside of a bus, the kitchen, coffee shops and the print room at college.

The exhibiting artists are: Annie Clough-Hillman (Wimbledon College of Art), Immie Dungate (Anglia Ruskin University), Willa Hilditch (Chelsea College of Art), Sung-Kook Kim (Royal College of Art), Jonathan Koetsier (Falmouth University), Rebeka-Louise Lee (Canterbury Christ Church University), Anna Menshenina (University of Westminster), Elizabeth Monahan (Norwich University of the Arts), Tyler Reed (Camberwell College of Arts), Gideon Summerfield, (Royal Drawing School), Stefan Tiburcio (Royal Drawing School), Haoxuan Wei (Royal College of Art), Colette Williams (Falmouth University) and Scott Williams (Llwyn y Bryn School of Art).

Tagsmart weekly discovery: Elizabeth James’ quest for the untold beauty in the ordinary

Born in Croydon to mixed heritage-parents, Elizabeth James’ love of art has been a prominent part of her life. Captivated by the way black and white blends together and the shades of grey in between, her practice of the arts began exploring the use of pencil and charcoal. 

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It wasn’t until 2004 that James took what seemed to be a giant leap and started to use colours and paint with oils, which eventually led to her love for photography.

Looking down the lens like a form of escapism and in a quest for the beauty in the ordinary, James often shoots focuses on texture, shadows and reflections, capturing the visual rhythms in the natural flow. 

In 2014, James’ work from the Colour in Motion series was exhibited in the Works on Paper Art Fair at the Science Museum, at Gordon Ramsay’s London House in Battersea Square, and at the Stratstone of Mayfair Aston Martin showroom for the launch of the new Aston Martin Vanquish. In the same year, James was voted as one the top 5 artists at The Other Art Fair.

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Last year, James opened her own gallery, Elizabeth James Gallery, in South Norwood, to showcase the best of Croydon’s contemporary art. Hosting exhibitions with guest artists and workshops, selected artists are also occasionally invited to create art by the gallery window.

The gallery is hosting a special exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the original Summer of Love in 1967. The Croydon Summer of Love show represents the culturally and politically charged period of time through art. Exhibiting artists include Angela Crow, Bernard Gary, Tom Bushnell, Zoe Akroyd Parker and Jessica Le Gary. The exhibition will be on display until August 28.

Tagsmart weekly discovery: storytelling through Gillian Hyland’s photographs

Irish photographer Gillian Hyland describes herself as an image-maker and storyteller. Her work is based on her own poems and depicts characters in human dramas and isolated emotional situations. Frozen in time, solitary and vulnerable moments are presented in glorious technicolour and timeless sets. 

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“It’s not about creating a pretty picture, for me it’s the intention that lies beneath it that is truly worthwhile. I’m drawn to the thinking mind behind the face, the subject’s eyes holding a story in their gaze, that is what I aim to capture through my photographs.”

Hyland stages theatrical environments where her characters’ emotions are emphasised by playing with colours, symbols and aesthetic settings. The resulting images are not a literal description of a memory but an ambience, enabling the emotional core and mood to shine through.

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Having worked in publishing, fashion, film and television and creating imagery for editorials, commercials and advertising campaigns, Hyland has evolved into her own distinctive style and released her first fine art series, Words in Sight, in 2014. 

Since then her photographs have been exhibited around the world and received several awards, including Royal Arts Prize, International Photographer of the Year, Travel Photography Society Award, Sony World Photography Award, Magenta Flash Forward Award, La Quatrieme Image, AX3 – American Aperture Award, Moscow International Photo Award, PX3 – Prix de la Photographie and the PDN Curator Awards.

Her most recent body of work, the Windows Into Havana series, reveals experiences and emotions from her trip to Havana, Cuba. Playing with the notion of nostalgia, each image suggests a larger narrative and taps into our understanding of feelings and beliefs. The series explores Hyland’s sense of self and society and aims to engage and trigger an emotional response from the viewer.

Currently showing at Sunny Art Centre until September 4, Hyland has been shortlisted for the Sunny Art Prize 2017. Her works Eyes Shut and The Hearts Shadow have also been selected to be exhibited during the photo festival in Kuala Lumpur in the WhiteBox Gallery, opening on September 9.

Marit Geraldine Bostad exhibits at Madelyn Jordon Fine Art

Marit Geraldine Bostad describes her paintings as “intuitive, rich in colour, and passionate”. Her work is largely emotional and has a significant process behind it, eliminating the unnecessary and capture only the essence of the subject, resulting in strong, dynamic, abstract compositions.

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This Thursday, August 10th, Bostad presents her richly coloured and textured works, imbued with a fresh, youthful approach and positivity, alongside Liz Tran and Gary Komarin, in the Body Electric exhibition at the Madelyn Jordon Fine Art

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While diverse in methodology, technique and intent, the three artists share a passion for a vibrant, high key colour palette which imparts a celebratory energy to their work. With range and depth, the exhibition defines how the artists are advancing contemporary art practice through time-honoured modes of art-making. The show runs until September 9th.

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Originally an Art Director with 10 years of visual projects within film, illustration and concept building, Bostad has exhibited her work in Oslo, London and New York. Since her debut at The Other Art Fair in London in 2016, she has received substantial attention curators as well as galleries throughout Europe for her vibrant, joyful and contemporary abstract paintings. 

Mall Galleries: Parks – Our Shared Heritage

In celebration of National Parks Week, Tagsmart partner Mall Galleries has come together with The Royal Parks, the Office of Public Works and The Hearsum Collection to display the most outstanding British landscapes through art. 

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For the first time ever, London will be hosting an exhibition exploring Britain’s rich heritage history, with rarely seen artefacts including oil paintings, photographs, and historical documents spanning three centuries. A fascinating insight is offered into the parks’ connections with prominent historical figures including the Royal Family and Prime Ministers.

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In addition to the show, The Royal Parks – in partnership with the education team at Mall Galleries – will host a number of community art activities from 28 July to 11 August (find out more here).

Don’t miss this exploration of the rich and previously hidden heritage of unique parks, from their creation as Royal hunting grounds to the much loved public parks we see today. At the Mall Galleries until 11 August.

Faking it: Does the forged Vermeer that fooled Goering belong in a museum?

There ain’t no way that’s a Caravaggio.

Let me pause and leave you with that thought, before we circle back to it.

So there I was this weekend, in the small Dutch town of Deventer for my best friend’s wedding. I walked past the enormous former cathedral, stripped to the bricks during the Reformation, en route to complete task number 1 in my duty as best man: buying a postcard and a pen. That’s when I passed a sign at the town’s museum: Een Echte van Meegeren. “An Original Van Meegeren.” What were the chances? My last book was an illustrated history of forgery, prominently featuring Han van Meegeren, Dutch art forger extraordinaire, and there happens to be a special exhibit of his forgeries a few paces from where my friend is about to get hitched? In I went.

And here’s the thing. Van Meegeren’s paintings may look nothing whatsoever like the work of Vermeer, and it remains extraordinary that the world’s leading specialists were so convinced that Van Meegeren’s forgeries were Vermeer originals — but they are extremely beautiful. They also fulfill Aristotle’s definition of what makes for great art: His paintings are good (they exhibit skill), they are beautiful (a subjective opinion, but a legitimate one) and they are interesting. Interesting not because they are some revolutionary new interpretation of art, but because of the story they embody, possibly the most dramatic of all known forgery cases. Van Meegeren was arrested after the Second World War for having sold Dutch cultural heritage (a Vermeer painting) to the enemy (Herman Göring, head of the Luftwaffe and a ravenous stolen art collector). This was considered high treason and, if found guilty, van Meegeren could have been executed. Oops. He rather frantically tried to explain his “recipe” for forging a Vermeer, but was not believed until he actually painted another one while incarcerated.

Looking at Van Meegeren’s paintings in person for the first time, I was struck by the thought: I’d love to own this.

I would love to be a forgery collector. The problem with forgeries is the whole being-duped thing. Buyers don’t want to feel that they’ve had the wool (expensively) pulled over their eyes. If you think you’ve bought a Tesla, paid Tesla prices, and it turned out that someone stuck a Tesla chassis on a Renault Zoe, you’d be pretty pissed. Same deal (but think in the millions rather than the tens of thousands), and you’ll understand the reaction of buyers who might have thought they were acquiring a Vermeer (worth tens of millions) but actually have a Van Meegeren (worth perhaps in the mid-five figures, largely because of the story behind his crime). But what if you know that it’s a Van Meegeren forgery of a Vermeer? Stripped of the fraud component, what you have is an extremely skillfully executed painting, beautiful and with a heck of an interesting story behind it. It becomes a relic of the story in which it featured, but it can also be admired for its aesthetic value.

Forgery stories pop up all the time. In recent months, suspicion has floated that there is a previously unknown master forger of Old Master paintings (or ring of cooperating forgers) whose works are bobbing to the surface. Extremely good, expert-fooling forgeries have been spotted only with great difficulty: a painting by Lucas Cranach, a Franz Hals, a stunning Orazio Gentileschi. Add to this the Caravaggio I mentioned at the start of this essay, supposedly found in a family’s attic in Toulouse. This makes for at least four extremely convincing works that divide scholars. A handful still contend that each is authentic (or at least that evidence has yet to be made public that proves otherwise). Others argue that these are recently-made forgeries. Then there is the third option: that they are copies after original works, made not with fraud in mind (and therefore not a proper forgery), but later misattributed as an original.

The idea that there is a “ring of forgers” is probably the least likely option, especially considering the works in question are skillfully executed, naturalistic works. One of only a few known proper forgery rings was in Siena in the 1930s, built up around Icilio Federico Joni, who specialized, along with his comrades, in Sienese Gothic altarpieces. But that is an outlier. Almost all known forgers have created alone (though many worked with others who functioned as front men and did the actual conning). There are some organized crime groups who dabble in forgery, but they tend to focus on far easier-to-produce, and often more valuable, modern works (like the Austrian/Slovenian gang just busted for trying to sell forged Picassos at 10 million Euros a pop). Abstract, minimalist work is artistically easier to produce than intricate, naturalistic paintings, but more than that, the materials are easier to get hold of (to resist forensic testing), and forgers do not have to replicate centuries of patina and craquelure if the work in question is only meant to be a few decades old.

So how do we know if these works are a) original, b) forgeries or c) copies that were misattributed as originals?

Forensic testing can only tell us so much. It can tell us the rough date that organic materials in a painting were made, and that’s pretty good. That should rule out a forgery, especially for Old Master works from the 16th or 17th centuries. But it can rarely guarantee authorship. Just because the Toulouse “Caravaggio” painting of Judith beheading Holofernes dates to circa 1610 does not make it a Caravaggio. Caravaggio’s work was so wildly popular that a wash of other artists sought to emulate his style (they are featured now in London’s National Gallery, at an exhibit called “Beyond Caravaggio.”) The original of this painting hangs in Rome at Palazzo Barberini, so this is necessarily either a copy by Caravaggio (and we have no historical record or precedence of him making an exact copy of one of his own paintings, as he altered them when asked to do multiple versions of a single subject, like his “David with the Head of Goliath” or “Supper at Emmaus” paintings), or a copy after Caravaggio. The latter is far more likely and, frankly, is what I thought immediately upon seeing a digital image of the Toulouse painting. It just doesn’t look good enough to be by Caravaggio himself. It looks like a solid, contemporary copy, likely by a 17th century painter who tried to learn Caravaggio’s best-selling style (which the artist fiercely guarded — he sued those who tried to ape him). It’s valuable. It’s interesting. I’d be delighted to have the work on my wall. But it ain’t no Caravaggio.

Which brings me to my point. Depending on the law of the country in question, some forged artworks proved as such in court must be destroyed (in France, for instance), a draconian move meant to make it impossible for forgers to profit from their crimes. Other nations keep forgeries for didactic purposes (Scotland Yard owns many wonderful forgeries from their successful investigations, and occasionally shows them in exhibitions) — when I taught a course on art crime at Yale, I was able to dip into recognized forgeries in the Yale Art Gallery’s storerooms and use them in hands-on seminars with my students. Forgeries should be noted as such, and it’s no good if they continue to fool people. Likewise, it probably is immoral, and should likely be illegal, for convicted forgers to profit from the sale of their art or image rights to them (this is why the blockbuster Scotland Yard exhibits at London’s V&A Museum never came with a catalogue — they would have had to pay the forgers for permission to use the images). But forgeries are beautiful, interesting, skillfully made objects that are a component of the history of art, culture and crime. As long as they no longer trick us, they are works that I, for one, would be delighted to collect.

Marc Quinn sculptures to go on display around Qatar

Doha will have in its midst two monumental sculptures by Tagsmart Certify artist Marc Quinn — Frozen Wave and The Origin of the World — as the Anima Gallery, The Pearl, prepares to roll out Quinn’s first solo exhibition in the region titled Marc Quinn at Anima and featuring some of his finest sculptures and paintings. The two awe-inspiring sculptures will be exhibited outdoors for the first time; one to be displayed in front of the Museum of Islamic Art, and the other outside the Anima Gallery. The exhibition opens on November 13 and will be on till February 13, 2017.

Art crime, fraudsters and fakes revealed in new exhibition

New Zealand has a history of art crime which will be exposed in an intriguing new exhibition to open at Waikato Museum by the end of the month. The exhibition, An Empty Frame: Crimes of Art in New Zealand features 30 artworks and explores the different aspects of art crime; theft, vandalism and fraud in the form of forgery. 

Guest curator and art historian Penelope Jackson says art crime is far more widespread than we know and New Zealand is no exception where art crime is criminally punishable and often motivated by money.

All artworks in the exhibition have at some stage been “victims” of art crime and each is accompanied by its own particular story.

An Empty Frame is named after the elegant gold frame, left behind after the 1902 painting, Psyche by Solomon J Solomon was stolen from a Christchurch gallery in 1942. The famous frame now belongs to the Christchurch Art Gallery collection and is featured in the exhibition. “Psyche is one of my favourite cases as it is full of intrigue. There is a sense of hope the exquisite gold frame will one day be reunited with the stolen painting, although it is highly improbable now”, says Ms Jackson.

One aspect of An Empty Frame intended to challenge visitors is the placement of a genuine artwork from the Museum’s collection alongside a fake.

Waikato Museum Director Cherie Meecham says it was surprisingly easy to arrange high quality reproductions of the originals for the purpose of the show. “It’s not illegal to produce a copy of a painting, but it is a crime to try to sell it as the original – it’s essentially fraud.”

Visit http://waikatomuseum.co.nz for more information.

Museum admits all paintings in high-profile exhibition are fake

The Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts publicly apologised for failing to verify the authenticity of 17 paintings on display at an exhibition that have been confirmed as fake.

A panel of famous artists and experts and officials found 15 of the paintings, supposedly the works of legendary artists such as Nguyen Tu Nghiem and Bui Xuan Phai, were copies.

Two others were found to be works of other artists. At least one living artist, Thanh Chuong, has claimed one of the two paintings as his.

All the paintings at the show are owned by Vu Xuan Chung, who claimed to have acquired them from Jean-Francois Hubert, a known expert on Vietnamese art and a former senior consultant for giant auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

Master forger Geert Jan Jansen presents own exhibition

The Dutch painter Geert Jan Jansen has just opened his new exhibition in List, Germany. Although this time the works on display are modelled after original masterpieces, they are not regarded as a forgery as they are signed by the artist with his own name. Some of the 135 exhibits are also his own work.

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The 72-year-old is well-known in the art world for his copying skills and is considered the “master forger of the century”. Jansen has forged works of over 40 different artists, including Pablo Picasso, Juan Miró, Paul Gauguin and Marc Chagall. He not only has copied artworks of these artists, but also used their individual artistic language to create original pieces and sign it their names. 

Jansen was arrested in 1994 in France, when over 1,500 artworks were seized. He was held in detention for six months, but was acquitted for lack of evidence. 

The exhibition runs until July 3rd.

Prado opens landmark Bosch exhibition amid attribution controversy

Bosch fever is now moving on to Madrid, where the most comprehensive exhibition ever held on the Dutch master opens today (31 May). Twenty-four works by Hieronymus Bosch are on display—seven more than were at the Noordbrabants Museum in s’Hertogenbosch earlier this year. Probably never again will so many of his paintings be brought together.

However, part of the difference between the Bosch numbers at the Noordbrabants and the Prado is because of attributional questions. Dutch researchers demoted four works, all Spanish-owned pictures. The Noordbrabants team numbered the Spanish works as 24 (of which they got 17). The Prado specialists regard the total of fully-attributed works as 27 (of which they got 24). 

Gallery of fake paintings opens in Argentina

The paintings in Buenos Aires’ newest gallery may look like the work of great artists, but they are actually rip-offs – and the exhibition’s organisers want you to know it.

One of the works doesn’t even look the part – it is supposed to be a masterpiece by the late Argentine painter Antonio Berni, but the main figure’s head is cut off by the frame. The 40 canvases on display at the exhibition in the Argentine capital were seized in a raid organised by cross-border police agency Interpol on a band of forgers.